Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Hiding and hauntings

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d2272 (Published 13 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2272
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

Spy stories, with few exceptions, fail to excite me; I prefer a good murder any day. But one of the most gripping books I have ever read was by Joseph Kessel, Les Mains du Miracle, translated into English as The Magic Touch or, in the United States, as The Miraculous Hands. It is about Heinrich Himmler’s personal doctor, Felix Kersten.

Kessel (1898–1979), like so many writers the son of a doctor, was born in Argentina and brought up for a few years in Russia before his family moved to France. He was an adventurer on a grand scale and wrote scores of books. Decorated in the first world war, he joined the French resistance …

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